Spirit to End Road Trip with Courage, After Falling to Pride
The Washington Spirit will wrap up a three-game road trip with a mid-week meeting with the NWSL leading North Carolina Courage tonight.
It has been a rough trip for the Spirit. Washington plays its third game in 10 days on the road, falling 2-0 to the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, July 1. On Saturday, the Spirit fell to the Orlando Pride 2-1 after conceding a late goal in the 86th minute. Tonight they will face the defending NWSL champs and a team that has lead the league all season.
Kickoff from Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina is set for 7:00 pm in the third and final meeting between the Spirit and Courage in 2018.
Forward Ashley Hatch tallied for the Spirit and broke the Washington scoreless drought on Saturday on a header off a corner kick. Hatch took over the team lead in goals scored with her fourth goal of the season.
Washington fell to 2-10-4 (10 points) as Orlando improved to 6-5-4 (25 points) as the Pride grabbed all three points late in the contest thanks to a strong individual display from Brazilian international Marta who scored the game-winner in the 86th minute.
The Spirit went ahead early in the 26th minute when Hatch broke the Washington scoreless drought on a header off a corner kick taken by defender Whitney Church. Hatch took over the team lead in goals scored with her fourth goal of the season. Hatch’s goal was the second goal this season she scored on a header off of a set piece and was the earliest goal she has scored in a Spirit uniform.
Orlando equalized in first half stoppage time when Sydney Leroux beat Washington goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe near post on a close strike to level the contest right before the half.
Leroux was credited with the game-winning assist as found Marta in the midfield who weaved her way past the Spirit defense and roofed her right-footed shot into the top of the net to give the Pride the late 86th minute winner.
Early in the contest, Washington was forced to use a substitution. Minutes into the game Francisca Ordega collided with Pride goalie Ashlyn Harris and was unable to continue. Meggie Doughtery Howard substituted into the contest in the 10th minute.
In the second half, Washington produced the first big scoring opportunities in the then tie game. Hatch nearly recorded a brace when her shot required a diving save from Harris in the 62nd minute. One minute later, Estefania Banini nailed the inside post, almost putting the Spirit ahead.
Following the late Pride goal, in stoppage time the Spirit came close to equalizing as Bledsoe and the defense came up from the backline to throw numbers forward in the box. Caprice Dydasco recorded the best chance as her shot just missed